In the midst of the U.S. presidential election period, it seems like a very simple task for each of us to take the time to get educated and vote. Each time we step into a voting booth, we honor the sacrifice of those that made our democracy possible, so when the polls open on Nov. 8, 2016, do not skip your opportunity to help decide our future.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Commerce in July 2015 detailed voting patterns in the United States over a 36-year period (See: Who Votes? Congressional Elections and the American Electorate: 1978-2014). The results are telling. In general, voting rates (the percentage of the population voting) have fallen regardless of how you look at it (see report for various measures). According to the report, the voting rate dropped from a high of nearly 70 percent in the 1992 presidential election year to a dismal 41.9 percent in the 2014 non-presidential election year. Historically, the voting rate in presidential election years (like 2016) increases by nearly 20 percent (i.e., the voting rate for 2012 was 61.8 percent for a presidential election year followed by 41.9 percent for 2014 a non-residential election year).
The report also shows a pattern of voting rates increasing with age. In every national election since 1978, voting rates for 18- to 34-year-olds have trailed voting rates for older Americans. Simply put, younger people appear to vote at a lesser rate, which seems counter intuitive because it is my belief that younger people have the responsibility of protecting their future.
So what does this mean for those of us living and working in The Woodlands, Texas? Local elections in November will get a boost from the presidential election in the number of voters. As politics become more polarized and political views more extreme, it is my wish that people educate themselves on the true issues and facts at the local, regional, state and federal level. Younger people need to become more, not less, involved in the issues of today as they will be their issues tomorrow. Only with higher levels of fact-based information and involvement will our community and country continue to be the greatest place on earth.
Bret L. Strong
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